You’ve arrived! Congratulations for making it so far, you’ve done so much to be here and you are going to have a blast! You’re now in a crazy exciting city and I bet you can’t wait to go out and cycle those dutch bikes everyone goes on about or eat baguettes and drink wine in a cafe. But first! There are things you need to do. Read on for the third post in my series about moving to another country.
1. Get yourself a house
Sooo obvious but maybe the most annoying part, a flat share is a great place to start as it will often allow you to move straight in without waiting or massive down payments, so start looking at Gumtree, Craigslist etc. Whether you decide to share or not, I would recommend finding somewhere with shorter and more flexible lease terms at the outset (unless you find a killer, basically free house in which case you need to lock that down forever) so that you can take a few months to confirm your choice of neighbourhood – you’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn in the beginning about where you want to lay your roots.
2. Get a job
Getting yourself some incoming cash will take the definitely pressure off, because moving to a new city will see your savings pretty much disappear. In the world of job hunting, it really pays to be persistent. Like, annoyingly persistent. Getting up in the morning and making a plan and attacking it like crazy is the only way it’s going to happen for you. Hopefully your profession is in demand in your new city but don’t be disheartened if it isn’t – I moved to London during the GFC looking for town planning jobs and let’s just say they didn’t exactly fall at my feet. I tried to be super persistent and worked with recruiters and on my own to get a role. Be ready to look sideways or at variations on what you’ve done if you’re finding it really hard. And don’t be afraid to jazz up your CV a little (no lying of course) – make all those things you did seem as amazing a possible! (cos they were right?).
3. Do ALLLL the paperwork
Legitimising your life in a new country is the most annoying part of the whole process, but the most important. Hopefully you’ve got your working visa sorted, or it’s being sorted (sometimes these things take time or rely on you getting that job). Once you have that you need to go about getting that bank account, your new phone plan, medical cards (if applicable), social security numbers etc etc etc. This can be a frustrating process because often getting all these things sorted relies on getting one of them in place first – you need proof of address to get your phone plan, you need a visa to get your bank account etc etc etc. Do as much research to work out what the most important element of paperwork is in the country you’ve moved to. In Hong Kong it’s the HKID card, you pretty much can’t do anything with out it.
4. Cope with your homesickness
Moving to a new place is really tough, regardless of whether it’s a few states or a whole continent away. Particularly if you’ve moved alone, but even when you move with a friend or a partner, the feeling of being out of place and away from the ones you love can take it’s toll. When I first moved to London even though I had my boyfriend with me I missed the cocoon of my parents and my brother and all those familiar things. To cope with it I stayed in touch with my family a lot (used my Skype account like crazy), I focused on planning some fun things in the future I could look forward to and I treated myself every now and then to something nice, like a yummy meal or a massage, which is a big ask when money is tight.
5. Meet New People
Living so far away from home, your friends are going to be your family now more than ever, so invest as much time in making new ones. You already have a few? Great! But more is more when it comes to friends (as long as you’re not sacrificing quality for quantify that is). This is the perfect time to link up with friends of friends (remember that awkward friend date?) or join a sporting team, do some group fitness, go to that wine and cheese mixer – do whatever you can to just meet new people. They’ll be the people who will make you feel better when you’re having a down day, and the ones who’ll drink cider in the park with you during the summer so yay to that!
6. Don’t lose contact with people at home
But don’t be too busy with your new friends/life that you lose contact with your old ones. Ever feel like someone dropped off the face of the earth when they left town? Or ever returned home after a long trip and felt you didn’t know your friends anymore? Both have been me and both can also be solved by dedicating an hour per week to keeping in contact with friends, easy these days with Skype, whatsapp, wechat and viber, you’ve literally no excuse now! Oh and forgetting someone’s birthday is hurtful no matter how far you live away (I say that as both the forgetter and the forgettee…).
7. Get out and explore
Wandering the streets is the best way to get to know your new home, so although it might seem scary at first just dedicate time to understanding your neighbourhood and the new city you live in! But check to see if there are any unsafe no-go areas before you do this. Hong Kong doesn’t really have any areas like this but London does so it’s worth checking.
8. Try not to stress
Moving cities can be stressful. Money, job hunting and bureaucracy are pretty much the tri-fector for massively high stress levels so don’t be too hard on yourself. These things will work out over time and everything will be fine. Trust. Oh also meditation and yoga do wonders for stress levels, perhaps there’s somewhere you can do a free course? And meet people too!
Photo by Marion Tessier